Minister’s appointment defended despite Mugabe-links

Thailand’s premier on Thursday defended her appointment of a Cabinet minister who is on a US blacklist owing to alleged business links to Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe.

Nalinee Taveesin, named minister to the premier’s office this week, had her assets frozen by the US in 2008 on accusations that she was a “crony” providing financial and logistical support to the Mugabe regime.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra insisted Nalinee’s appointment was “in line with the Constitution”.

Nalinee was described by the US treasury department in November 2008 as a business person who facilitated a number of financial, real estate and gem-related transactions of behalf of Mugabe’s wife, Grace.

“Ironically, Nalinee Taveesin has participated in a number of initiatives on corruption and growth challenges in Africa and South East Asia while secretly supporting the kleptocratic practices of one of Africa’s most corrupt regimes,” a treasury statement said at the time.

The action led to the freezing of Nalinee’s assets within US jurisdiction and a ban from financial or commercial transactions with US citizens.

Morals
Nalinee, previously a Thai trade representative, told the Bangkok Post daily that she had known the Mugabes’ for more than a decade but denied she had ever had a business relationship with them.

“I have never traded in gem stones,” she was quoted as saying by the paper. “I have never brought diamonds in for sale. I am friends with the presidents of many countries. This [is] a case of guilt by association.”

Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, a spokesperson for the opposition Democrat Party, argued: “Even though the Constitution does not ban ministers who are on a blacklist, the government should have morals”.

The US and the EU sanctions on Zimbabwe include travel bans and asset freezes on Mugabe and members of his inner circle, who are accused of seriously undermining democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Wednesday’s Thai Cabinet reshuffle also promoted Nattawut Saikuar, a leader of the “Red Shirt” protest movement who faces terrorism charges, to the post of deputy agriculture minister, drawing further criticism from the opposition. — AFP

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

In East Africa, the locusts are coming back for more

In February the devastating locust swarms were the biggest seen in East Africa for 70 years. Now they’re even bigger

Western Cape Judge Mushtak Parker faces second misconduct complaint

The Cape Bar Council says his conduct is ‘unbecoming the holding of judicial office’

‘My biggest fear was getting the virus and dying in...

South African Wuhan evacuee speaks about his nine-week ordeal

Border walls don’t stop viruses, but a blanket amnesty might

Why South Africa should consider amnesty for undocumented migrants in the time of the coronavirus outbreak.

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories